Update 12/7/22: We won! Thanks to a massive groundswell of opposition, the JCPA was dropped from the NDAA. Stay tuned, as we may still need to play another round of whack-a-mole before the year is out…
Urgent action is needed! The Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA) completely fails to preserve journalism or competition, but Congress is trying to ram it through in the lame duck session as an add-on to the National Defense Authorization Act right now.
Ironic, because this toxic bill further imperils our democracy so corporations like Alden Global Capital can form a national cartel to get handouts—and worse. This bill, if passed, will break how we use the internet. 25+ organizations including Fight for the Future, ACLU, and Free Press have spoken out against its harms. Even the copyright office doesn’t want this bill to pass.
First, the JCPA would expand the power of the hedge funds that have decimated local journalism by giving them special permission to form a cartel and charge internet users for linking to or sharing news content.
Then, it would mandate that Internet platforms carry and pay for even the most extreme and false content coming out of “news” organizations. Senator Ted Cruz openly brags about his JCPA amendment to prevent content moderation that would force platforms to carry content that amounts to hate speech.
Even worse, the JCPA imposes a link tax that forbids internet users from linking to or sharing news articles online, unless the platform they’re on pays news entities for the right to share their news stories. Posting a link is not only free today, but fundamental to the internet’s core. By making lies free and the truth cost even more to share, the JCPA would limit our access to credible news and information online.
The JCPA would do nothing to expand and support local journalism, but it would lead to greater consolidation at the expense of credible, independent news. It’s likely to hurt local publishers, nonprofit news outlets, and start-ups that focus on delivering local news to local communities.
So who does it help? The JCPA enables even more consolidation in the media industry, helping only large hedge funds, large broadcasting companies, and corporations that are taking over news outlets and extracting profits instead of investing in journalism. The JCPA creates a news media cartel where news giants with the greatest leverage would dominate negotiations, and small outlets with diverse or dissenting voices would not be heard.
If passed, the Act would represent a major failure to honestly address the needs of local communities that are becoming news deserts. There are powerful alternatives that could help fix the journalism crisis, but JCPA is not it.
Simply put, the JCPA is the wrong answer plastered on top of a disastrous threat to the internet itself. Tell Congress to say no to the JCPA and instead support public interest solutions that truly bolster all journalism, and don’t keep small, local, or civic players out of the conversation.